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Posted December 14th, 2011

 

 

To:  Secretaries / CEOs of Unions and Regional Associations in Membership

 

From:  David Carrigy, Head of External & Member Relations

 

Subject:  Law Clarifications by Designated Members of Rugby Committee

 

Date:  November 23rd, 2011

 

Please see Law Clarifications below.

 

Yours sincerely,

 

 

David Carrigy

 

Head of External & Member Relations

 
 

CLARIFICATIONS IN LAW BY THE DESIGNATED MEMBERS OF THE RUGBY COMMITTEE

 

Clarification:

1

 

Union:

RFU

 

Law Reference:

3

 

Date:

May 18th, 2011

 

Request for clarification from the RFU . . . the correspondence is reproduced below.

 

 

Formal request for clarification on Law 3.12(b) which states:  “If uncontested scrums have been ordered and there is an injury to a front row player which requires that player to be replaced and there is a front row player available to replace that player then the front row player replacement must be used rather than players other than front row replacements.”

 

 

This request arises from the England vs. France match earlier this year.  Hendre Fourie (a back row player) was brought on as a replacement for Dan Cole (a prop).  The other England prop had been replaced earlier due to injury.  Dylan Hartley (the hooker) had been tactically replaced earlier in the game.  The view of our Laws Sub-committee is that, even though the match was to continue with uncontested scrums, under Law 3.12(b) Hartley should have been brought on instead of Fourie, because he is a front row player, even though he had already been replaced.

 

 

We wish for this to be clarified to ensure that there is no confusion if a similar situation arises during the Rugby World Cup.

 

Clarification of the Designated Members of the Rugby Committee

 

 

If after a succession of injuries to front row players a further injury occurs to a front row player and there is a replacement front row player who has not been used that player must be used to replace the injured front row player even if the referee has to order uncontested scrums.

 

 

If after a succession of injuries to front row players a further injury occurs to a front row player and all the front row replacements have been used then a substituted front row player must be used to replace the injured front row player even if the referee has to order uncontested scrums, unless the referee has ordered uncontested scrums prior to the injury to the front row player and the team has used all its replacement players in which case the front row player is not replaced.

 
 

Clarification:

2

 

Union:

ARU

 

Law Reference:

17

 

Date:

November 14th, 2011

 

Request for clarification from the ARU . . . the correspondence is reproduced below.

 

 

Law 17.6(g) says:  "If the ball carrier in a maul goes to ground, including being on one or both knees or sitting, the referee orders a scrum unless the ball is immediately available."

 

 

Often situations arise in the game when a ball carrier in a maul (especially when the maul consists of only 3 or 4 players) goes to ground with an opponent remaining on his feet with his arms wrapped around the ball. ARU asks the following questions:

 

a)

Does the opponent on his feet need to release the ball carrier given that this is a collapsed maul and not a tackle?

 

b)

Does the ball carrier have to release the ball to the opponent on his feet?  Law 17.6 (g) indicates a scrum unless the ball is

immediately available but places no obligation on the ball carrier to make it available by releasing it.

 

c)

When a maul collapses, is there any obligation on players to roll away from the ball in order to make the ball available?

 

d)

When a maul collapses, are players who go to ground able to interfere with the ball as it is being made available while they are still off their feet?  If not, what is the sanction and what is the basis in Law?"

 

Clarification of the Designated Members of the Rugby Committee

 

 

Questions (a), (b) and (c) relate to questions of Law and (d) relates more to the application of Law.

 

 

There is a further variable to be taken into account when the ball goes to ground at a collapsed maul and there are players from both sides on their feet bound over the ball so that Law 16 – Ruck becomes applicable.

 

a)

If a maul collapses and the ball does not touch the ground the player on his feet is not obliged to release the ball or ball carrier unless the ball touches the ground and a ruck is formed.

 

b)

The original ball carrier who goes to ground (knee or sitting) who can play the ball must do so immediately and the referee then has a judgment to make:

 

 

 

i.

When the ball carrier goes to ground and the ball is unplayable (i.e. the ball is not available immediately), through no fault of the ball carrier, then the referee awards a scrum as per 17.6(g).

 

 

 

ii.

When the ball carrier goes to ground and that player fails to make the ball available the sanction is a penalty kick to the opposition as per 17.2(d)

 

c)

At a collapsed maul there is no obligation in Law for players to roll away unless a ruck subsequently occurs.

 

d)

If this occurs Law 17 has not been applied because the ball has not been made available immediately and the referee should have stopped the game and awarded a scrum or a penalty sanction dependent on the actions of players before.

 
 

Clarification:

3

 

Union:

ARU

 

Law Reference:

11

 

Date:

December 6th, 2011

 

Request for clarification from the ARU . . . the correspondence is reproduced below.

 

 

Law 11.4(f) states:  " . . . The 10-meter Law applies if the ball touches or is played by an opponent but is not charged down."

 

 

This section of Law does not appear to have been applied in any professional or international competition since it was introduced in 2009.  It is current practice that if the ball is kicked and touched in flight by an opponent, we have seen refereed rule that any teammate of the kicker who is in front is now deemed onside.

 

 

ARU requests clarification on how this Law is to be applied.  ARU has several concerns:

 

1.

This Law says "touches or is played".  Under the Definitions of the Game, ‘touched’ and ‘played’ mean exactly the same thing.

 

2.

 

The definition of "Charge Down" in Law 12 clearly indicates that the ball does NOT have to travel forward from the player charging down to be considered a charge down (stating that charge down "is not a knock-on even though the ball may go forward").  We question how Law 11.4 (f) can distinguish between the ball being touched in flight after being kicked and the ball being charged down if there is no such difference between the two.

 

3.

 

Even assuming it was argued that a charge down must travel forward (not supported in Law) this Law seems difficult to apply.  If a ball ricochets off a player charging down an travels, for example, either in a perpendicular direction to the player charging down, or bobbles into the air and lands merely 2 meters behind the player charging down, the 10m Law would presumably apply and offside players (potentially an entire team) must retire 10m from where the ball lands or behind the kicker.  This seems impractical to enforce and vastly at odds with current practice.

 

 

A good example of the unworkability of this Law is the RWC Game NZ vs. Tonga at 12.45 in the first half.  The ball is kicked by black 9, touched in flight by red 11, then played by red 5.  Then black 2, who is within the 10m of where the ball was played by red 5, attempts to dive on the ball.  Since a player inside the 10m cannot be put onside by the action of an opponent as per Law 11.5 (b), according to current Law this should be a PK to red.

 

 

Can the IRB clarify in which scenarios this Law is to be applied? If it is agreed that this sentence of Law is unworkable, we suggest simply removing it, as the remainder of Law 11.4 (f) covers the fact that the teammates of the kicker who are in front of the kicker are not offside when a charge occurs."

 

Clarification of the Designated Members of the Rugby Committee

 

1.

The act of a charge down is one where an opposition player not in possession of the ball approaches a kicker at close

quarters and makes an attempt to block the kick.  In such circumstances players in front of the kicker who are within 10 meters of the kick are not liable to penalty wherever the ball lands.

 

2.

If the ball is not charged down but is played or touches an opposition player and a player from the kicker’s side is within the 10 meter area in front of the kick that player is liable to penalty in accordance with Law 10.4(f).

 

The deletion of 11.4(f) would require a Law amendment.

 
 

Clarification:

4

 

Union:

ARU

 

Law Reference:

12

 

Date:

November 14th, 2011

 

Request for clarification from the ARU . . . the correspondence is reproduced below.

 

 

Law 12, Definitions state:  "A knock-on occurs when a player loses possession of the ball and it goes forward, or when a player hits the ball forward with the hand or arm, or when the ball hits the hand or arm and goes forward, and the ball touches the ground or another player before the original player can catch it."

 

 

The Law does not explicitly cover scenarios where the ball is ripped out of the possession of a ball-carrier by an opponent. In these situations it is almost impossible for the referee to determine exactly who last touched or had physical contact with the ball.

 

 

For the sake of improving consistency of ruling from referees worldwide, in the following scenarios, has a knock-on occurred? If so, who has knocked the ball on?

 

1.

Ball-carrier A from the red team runs towards the blue team’s dead ball line.  Opponent B approaches A from in front and rips the ball out of A’s hands such that neither player has possession of the ball and the ball travels towards the blue team’s goal line. (We often see this ruled a knock-on by A).

 

2.

Ball-carrier A from the red team runs towards the blue team’s dead ball line.  Opponent B approaches A from behind and rips the ball out of A’s hands such that neither player has possession of the ball and the ball travels towards the red team’s goal line. (We often see this either ruled play or a knock-on by B)."

 

Clarification of the Designated Members of the Rugby Committee

 

 

In each of the scenarios outlined the ball carrier is not responsible for losing possession.

 

 

In scenario 1 the ball has been ripped from the ball carrier by a player ripping the ball from the ball carrier’s hands and it goes towards that player’s goal line.  There is no infringement in Law and play should continue.

 

 

In scenario 2 the player ripping the ball out of the ball carrier’s hands is effectively throwing the ball towards the opposition team’s goal line and this is an infringement which requires the referee to award a scrum with the non-offending team throwing in subject to advantage.